Arnett, Cornett attend TRaD Conference to promote region's remote workforce

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Jared Arnett, executive director of Shaping Our Appalachian Region, Inc. (SOAR), attended the TRaD Works Forum on September 27-29 in Washington, D.C.

The event, which focused on opportunities and challenges surrounding telecommuting, remote and distributed work, was presented by FlexJobs and

“The footprint of telecommuting and remote work has grown exponentially because of the work of organizations like the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (EKCEP) and Teleworks USA,” said Arnett. “The reality is that we have a vast pool of human capital with the skills and work ethic that are attractive to remote companies.”

Michael Cornett, director of agency expansion for EKCEP, joined Arnett at the conference. Cornett oversees the Teleworks USA program, which has created more than 1,100 remote jobs in eastern Kentucky representing an estimated $25 million in annual impact to the region.

“The TRaD Works Forum was a great opportunity to connect with remote-work industry leaders and employers and tell them all about what Teleworks USA is doing right here in Eastern Kentucky,” said Cornett. “We are already following up on connections made with national remote work-based organizations to forge new partnerships that will create even more remote-work opportunities for our region’s workforce.” 

Teleworks USA also operates hubs in Jackson, Perry, Harlan, Owsley, Lee, Leslie, Lawrence and Pike counties.  

Appalachia Kentucky is uniquely positioned to benefit from remote job opportunities.  Earlier this year, SOAR and EKCEP partnered with Big Sandy Community and Technical College, Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College and Hazard Community and Technical College to form the Digital Careers now program, which will create hubs at each college.  These centers were made possible through a $3.5 million POWER grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and will provide rapid, real-time training by preparing and empowering job-seekers to secure digital careers.

“We want to change the landscape of work in Appalachia Kentucky,” said Arnett. “There are currently more than 35,000 remote jobs available in the United States, and we are confident that the people of Appalachia Kentucky can compete for those jobs with the proper training.”

Remote work is becoming more common because of the availability of mobility and cloud-based technologies.  It also is helping companies with profit margins and productivity.

The forum was comprised of Fortune 500 companies, fast-growing virtual companies and future of work leaders.  Arnett said the work being done by EKCEP and Teleworks USA is continuing to garner national attention for its innovative approach to economic development in rural America.

“Remote work levels the playing field for Appalachia Kentucky to compete for jobs in the global economy,” said Arnett. “We are proud of the work of EKCEP an Teleworks USA.”

For more information on Teleworks USA, visit